Wednesday, September 17, 2008

On Rendering Unto Caesar

Days after his speech to the French bishops reasserted that "the church does not claim the prerogative of the state" and "does not wish to take its place" but does seek a "healthy collaboration" with the civil sphere -- and his Elysee address called for a "new reflection" on church-state relations -- the Pope returned to the theme of what he termed "positive laicité" at this morning's General Audience:
The true separation of church and state “does not mean leaving out the spiritual dimension, but acknowledges that the latter is a guarantee of freedom and autonomy for earthly matters.”...

The Pope paid tribute to the “beloved nation” whose cultural development was closely related to the “Church’s fundamental civilising role as early as in the 2nd century.” And “it is interesting that in such a context the need for a healthy distinction between the political and religious spheres developed,” he said.

“A true separation between church and state does not leave out the spiritual dimension,” he explained, “but acknowledges that the latter is, in a radical way, a guarantee of our freedom and autonomy in earthly matters” since Jesus said that one ought to “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s . . . .” Indeed “if Roman coins bore Caesar in effigy and must be returned to him, the Creator’s fingerprint, that of the one and only lord of life, is in man’s heart.”
Fulltext to come.

PHOTO: Reuters